In recent months, the United States and Silicon Valley have become especially dangerous territory for anti-competitive practices. What until a few decades ago was accepted with complacency in the country of freedom, is now the subject of a dog-eat-dog confrontation with the courts.
Both Google and Amazon these days occupy their respective armies of lawyers in judicial disputes. The search engine, before the federal courts of Washington, in what is considered the most important monopoly trial of the Internet era, while online commerce will defend itself in the coming weeks before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), reinforced with 17 prosecutors. Only exemplary sanctions, presumably record-breaking, are expected from both processes. In view of the situation, few American technology companies could have expected that the friendly fire of the Biden Administration would become a more implacable enemy than the European Commission itself.
Without prejudice to the fact that, at any time, a new lawsuit may be filed on European soil against the patriarchs of the network, the Commission maintains the siege of large technology companies through the new Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into effect this year. This standard requires firms such as Apple, Google, Amazon or Meta to behave transparently in relation to the design of their algorithms.
In Jeff Bezos’ company, they have been preparing the defense against the monopoly complaint for years by prioritizing some advertisers over others. “Amazon exploits its monopolies so that buyers and sellers pay more for a poorer quality service,” Lina Khan, president of the FT, said this week in a lawsuit filed in a Washington State court. At the same time, online cyber commerce will have to argue in court that it does not harm competition through its merchandise delivery system and its positioning. That is, you must clarify the reasons why items that can be delivered quickly (Prime) appear prominently among the first references in user searches. The FTC representative also accuses Jeff Bezos’ company of undermining competition, with capricious price increases and the general detriment of innovation in the sector.
Amazon’s response to the FTC unsettled consumers, since it opens the door to potential price increases if demand prospers: “The FTC ruling would result in fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and fewer options for small businesses and SMBs,” Amazon explained through a public response.
For its part, Google expects a turbulent end of the year with the expected sentence of its antitrust trial in search services (where it has a market share of more than 90%) and ad auctions. Among other mechanisms, Google pays more than $10 billion a year to the main mobile manufacturers to enjoy alleged favorable treatment on the devices and the main browsers.
In turn, Microsoft is dealing with lawyers for the legal risks related to its merger with Activision Blizzard, whose dominant position in the video game sector could affect the ecosystem.
Meta already went through its particular judicial desert last year, when Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, overcame a cumbersome investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The friction between the owner of the largest social network (Facebook) and the leading instant messaging platform (Whatsapp) It has its origins in the abusive control of Meta in the market of developers of immersive applicationswith a view to the future metaverses of the brand.
Apple has emerged well from a dispute with the video game firm Epic Games, owner of the popular Fortnite, without evidence of violation of United States antitrust laws due to its control over the App Store. However, Apple suffers continuous surveillance from the United States Department of Justice for its behavior towards small app developers and component manufacturers.